In 1955, the Mick led the league in homers, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, and walks. In 2015, Bryce Harper did nearly the same thing (Harper’s 124 walks came up slightly short of Joey Votto‘s 143, but Harper did lead the league with 118 runs). Mantle hit 37 home runs in 1955. Harper hit 42 this year. The Mick’s OPS was 1.042. Harper’s was 1.109. Mantle accomplished this first epic season at the age of 23, while Harper finally emerged as a true superstar at the age of 22. Mantle, often cited as Harper’s favorite historic player followed up his 1955 campaign with a 52-homer, 130-RBI season in which he again led the league in OPS (as well as BA at .353). If Harper continues his exponential improvement in 2016, he could come close to matching those numbers. After three years of battling injuries and high expectations, Harper has finally arrived as the player everyone thought he would be.
On a team that struggled most of the year, Harper was absolutely transcendent and is undeniably the National League MVP. The 22-year-old former teenage Sports Illustrated cover boy registered 9.9 of the entire team’s 15.6 batter WAR. How’s that for value?